A.g. Schneiderman, Comptroller Dinapoli And U.s. Attorney Hartunian Announce Arrest And Indictment Of Nys Assemblyman William Scarborough
Separate State and Federal Indictments Accuse Assemblyman of Stealing Campaign
Funds and Fraudulently Collecting Travel Reimbursements
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and United States Attorney for the Northern District Richard S. Hartunian today announced the arrest and indictment of New York State Assemblyman William Scarborough for allegedly stealing campaign funds and falsely collecting travel reimbursements. The 23-count state indictment accuses the Southeast Queens Assemblyman of withdrawing and diverting over $40,000 from the bank account of the “Friends of Bill Scarborough” campaign committee and then using those funds for personal expenses. The 11-count federal indictment charges Scarborough with improperly claiming “per diem” expenses for travel that didn’t take place. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 37 years in prison.
“The crimes Mr. Scarborough is accused of committing represent a shameful breach of the trust his constituents placed in him,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “New Yorkers are repeatedly asked to have faith in our leaders, and it appears that faith has been shattered once again. Every time my office arrests a corrupt public official, it sends the message that there must be one set of rules for everyone and no one is above the law, no matter how powerful or well-connected. I also want to thank Comptroller DiNapoli and U.S. Attorney Hartunian – cases like that are made possible only through the great collaboration of our law-enforcement partners.”
"Elected officials cannot use taxpayer money or campaign funds as their personal piggy banks. Assemblyman Scarborough tried to game the system, thinking he could get away with it,” New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. "Through our joint investigation, we revealed that Assemblyman Scarborough allegedly submitted fraudulent travel vouchers and filed false reports on his use of campaign funds. I will continue to partner with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecutors across the state to root out corruption and bring corrupt officials to justice."
U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian said: “Today’s indictments demonstrate the commitment of state and federal authorities to combat the fraud and corruption that has plagued our political system. Our elected officials are expected to safeguard the integrity of their office and follow all the rules. When they fail to do so, law enforcement will respond. I heartily commend Attorney General Schneiderman and Comptroller DiNapoli for their vigorous pursuit of this case. The collaboration between state and federal investigators that has brought about these indictments has proven to be an effective tool in identifying and rooting out corruption in our state government.”
According to documents made public today in connection with the state investigation, part of an ongoing effort between Schneiderman and DiNapoli known as “Operation Integrity” and conducted with the assistance of the FBI, Scarborough engaged in a pattern of illegal activity over the last seven years. Bank records obtained as part of the investigation show that between January 2007 and March 2014, Scarborough made numerous withdrawals and transfers from his campaign committee’s account totaling approximately $38,000. Some of that money was taken out directly as cash withdrawals; some was transferred into his personal account, according to the indictment and court papers. Additionally, Scarborough deposited five checks made payable to “Friends of Bill Scarborough,” totaling $3,450, directly into his personal bank account.
The state indictment, filed in New York State Supreme Court in Albany, accuses Mr. Scarborough of then spending that cash for his own personal use, in violation of New York State Election Law, which says that “[c]ontributions received by a candidate or a political committee … shall not be converted by any person to a personal use.”
Mr. Scarborough also allegedly attempted to conceal his illegal conduct by not reporting the withdrawals to the state Board of Elections, as legally required. Between 2007 and 2014, there were 21 separate filings made with the Board of Elections that did not account for the withdrawals. Additionally, the money has never been accounted for in the campaign committee’s financial records.
The indictment charges Scarborough with two felony counts of Grand Larceny and 21 felony counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing.
The federal investigation, conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Albany Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, focused on the alleged improper claiming of “per diem” payments and other travel-related expenses from 2009 to 2012. In a federal indictment, filed today in United States District Court in Albany, Assemblyman Scarborough has been charged with four (4) counts of Theft Concerning a Program Receiving Federal Funds for allegedly submitting 174 false reimbursement vouchers for per diem expenses, mileage and tolls in excess of $40,000 between January 2009 and December 2012. If convicted, Scarborough faces a maximum term of imprisonment of not more than 10 years and a $250,000 fine. Scarborough was also charged with seven (7) counts of Wire Fraud relating to communications directing payment of specific false New York State Travel Vouchers to his bank account. If convicted, these counts carry a maximum term of imprisonment of not more than 20 years and fine up to $250,000.
The Attorney General, Comptroller and U.S. Attorney thank the Albany office of the FBI and Deputy Comptroller Nelson Sheingold and Investigator Rebecca Shanley of the State Comptroller’s Office for their cooperation and assistance in this investigation.
Prosecuting the state case is Senior Counsel Darren Miller of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau, which is led by Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz and Bureau Chief Daniel Cort. Kelly Donovan is the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice. The state’s investigation was handled by Investigator Mark Spencer and Deputy Bureau Chief Antoine Karam of the Investigation Bureau, which is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella. Forensic auditor Jason Blair and legal analyst Sara Pogorzelski provided additional assistance.
The federal investigation was handled by the FBI, Albany Division. The federal case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Coffman.
All charges are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.